Savor The Flavors of Pennsylvania

Did you know that the oldest residential street still in existence in America is Elfreth’s Alley? The entire reason that this street exists was for cart access for artisans toting their wares from their workshops to the trade based in Philadelphia’s Delaware River Ports. The buildings along the alleyway were erected in 1703; offering craftsmen of the time a place to set up shop on the lower levels, with living quarters above.

Don’t you love learning new and interesting historical tidbits? Every place has its story, its sorted and sometimes dark past, but even in darkness there is always an eye toward a brighter future and fulfilled dreams. Here’s just a sample of what I’ve learned about Pennsylvania . . .

The first department store in America was Philadelphia’s Wanamaker’s Department Store. What began as a men’s clothing store in 1861 grew. John Wanamaker bought an abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad Station and converted it into America’s first big department store. Wanamaker’s was also the first store to use a novel concept – price tags on all it’s merchandize. They also offered delivery with a fleet of trucks.

In Western PA, the Monongahela River is unique. It is 130 miles long. That isn’t what makes the Monongahela River interesting. The river flows from its west and east forks in North-Central West Virginia and flows north-east into Southern Pennsylvania. Rivers in the northern hemisphere flow south, not north, except this one.

In 1943 the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburg Steelers were forced to merge and form the Steagles Football Team. Both franchises had lost so many players to military service during World War II that the teams either come together for a full roster or sit it out. Their collaboration lasted one season.

Speaking of sports, America’s favorite pastime, Baseball, entered the big leagues with the first Baseball Stadium, built in 1909. Forbes Field, Pittsburg was the first. It was soon followed with stadiums in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston and New York.

Leave it to the women! In the 1940s the world stood at the predawn hours of the Digital Revolution, with only a handful of computers in existence in the entire world. While working on a secret government project at the University of Pennsylvania, six women became the first to program a computer for everyday use. The women were brought in to set up the world’s first electronic general purpose computer, called ENIAC, for the US Army. There was just one small snag, programming did not exist. The women, all with solid backgrounds in mathematics, stepped into a job that no one understood because it hadn‘t existed before. These women figured it out, and wrote the first programming. What did men do with this new raw computing power? Used it in calculations to design and build the world’s first hydrogen bomb.

Finally, Kennett Square, PA is the mushroom capital of the world. It produces one-million pounds of mushrooms every year. One million pounds – that’s a lot of shrums. It should come as no surprise that Kennett Square hosts a Mushroom Festival each year to promote their claim to fame.

Just for the record, during 2020’s pandemic lockdown, the search for Egg Salad Recipes reached a fever pitch in Pennsylvania. Seems the folks in Pennsylvania were all about comfort foods while staying home. Guess that explains the official drink of PA – milk. Can’t get more homey that milk.

Now that the world is returning to normal, it’s time to celebrate with an awesome Family Feast. And since the Mushroom Capital of the World is in Pennsylvania, our menu focuses around these earthy fungi.

Pennsylvania Family Feast
Rosemary Eye of Round Roast
Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Green Beans
Rosemary Dinner Rolls

Pennsylvania 4-Layer Burnt Almond Cake

Rosemary Eye of Round Roast
4 lb Eye Round Roast
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Olive Oil as needed
4 Garlic Cloves
6 sprigs Rosemary, divided

Early in the morning liberally season the eye round roast with salt and pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

An hour before cooking, remove the roast form the refrigerator to allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the roast with olive oil and drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Smash garlic without peeling, add to the bottom of the roasting pan along with 4 rosemary sprigs. Cook for 30 minutes, baste roast with any pan drippings.

Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, continue to cook until the meat is medium-rare, about 1 hour to an hour and a quarter.. Baste roast every 30 minutes throughout cooking time.

Remove the roast from the oven, place on a cutting board to rest, loosely tented, for 20 minutes. Slice the roast to the desired thickness. Transfer to a serving platter alone with any juices that may have accumulated. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and serve.

Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
8 medium-size Red Potatoes
2 cups Half-and-Half
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
2 teaspoons Chives
2 teaspoons Italian Parsley
1/4 cup Butter, softened

Peel and cut potatoes into uniform size for even cooking.

Add the potatoes, half and half, salt and pepper to a large pot or a Dutch oven. Heat over lowest heat setting possible for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. DO NOT allow liquid to boil.

Meanwhile, snip chives and parsley for garnish. Set aside. Make Mushroom Sauce.

Mushroom Sauce
4 Garlic Cloves
16 oz Cremini Mushrooms
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Thyme
1 tablespoon Butter
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoon Chicken Stock
Splash Soy Sauce
Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside. Clean, cut any woody stems, and slice mushrooms, set aside. Strip thyme from the sprigs, chop and set aside.

Add the butter to a sauté pan. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and thyme and season with salt and pepper, cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to shrink.

Stir in balsamic vinegar, water, and soy sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Keep warm while the potatoes are finished.

Remove the potatoes from the pot and place in a bowl to mash with a ricer. Once mashed add a teaspoon or two of the half and half along with the butter. Whip to combine. Top mashed potatoes parsley and chives.

Ladle some of mushroom sauce over the potatoes. Place the remaining mushroom sauce into a bowl. There is enough sauce to use for both the roast and the potatoes, enjoy.

Inspired by I Can Cook That

Skillet Green Beans
4 medium Shallots, peeled and sliced thin
8 oz Mushrooms
2 Garlic Cloves
1-1/2 lbs Green Beans
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme Leaves
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Sour Cream
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Peel and thinly slice shallots, set aside. Clean, trim and thinly slice mushrooms, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside. Trim green beans if using fresh. Thaw under cold running water if using frozen.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, stirring constantly continue to cool shallots until they become a nice caramel brown, 8 minutes longer. Turn shallots onto doubled paper toweling to cool and crisp.

Place trimmed green beans and 1/2 cup water, into a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle green beans with salt. Cover, heat to high, and cook until water has almost evaporated. Beans will be a bright green and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn green beans onto doubled paper toweling to cool.

Return skillet to stovetop and heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil Add mushrooms, sauté until mushrooms are golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; continue to sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add chicken stock; lower heat to simmer and let cook until thin gravy forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sour cream; simmer until heated through.

Add green beans to the mushroom sauce, season with fresh black pepper. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for the flavors to marry and the beans to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until sauce is thick enough to coat beans, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer Mushroom Green Beans to a serving bowl, top with shallot crisps and serve.

Rosemary Dinner Rolls
Rosemary Dough
1 large Egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary
1 (.25 oz) package Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm Water
3 cups Bread Flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2/3 cup warm Milk
1/4 to 1/3 cup Canola Oil
Butter for serving

Let egg for the dough warm to room temperature. Strip rosemary needles from sprigs, mince. Measure 2 teaspoons of minced rosemary for the dough, reserve remaining rosemary for wash.

Gentle warm water to 115 degrees. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, 2 teaspoons rosemary and salt in a food processor; pulse until blended. Warm milk to 115 degrees, add to the flour mixture. Add the egg and proofed yeast mixture. Cover processor and pulse 10 times or until almost blended.

While processing, gradually add oil just until dough pulls away from sides and begins to form a ball. Process 2 minutes longer to knead dough. At this stage the dough will be very soft.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide and shape into 12 balls. Roll each into a 15-inch. rope. Starting at one end, loosely wrap each dough rope around itself to form a coil. Tuck end under; pinch to seal.

Place coils 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Egg Yolk Finish
1 large Egg Yolk
2 tablespoons Milk
Reserved Rosemary

When ready to bake rolls, heat oven to 350 degrees.

Create an egg wash in a small bowl by whisking egg yolk and milk together. Brush coils with the wash.

Sprinkle rolls with remaining rosemary. Bake in the heated oven until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Remove rolls from pans to wire racks. Cool for 5 minutes.

Place in a breadbasket and serve warm with butter.

Pennsylvania 4-Layer Burnt Almond Cake
Almond Cake
4 Egg Whites
1 cup Milk
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 teaspoon Bakers Almond Extract
3 cups Cake Flour
1-1/2 cups Sugar
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) Butter

Allow milk, butter and eggs to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 F. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment, and spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Separate eggs, reserve yolks for the pastry cream.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla and almond extracts. Set aside.

In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to mix and sift the ingredients. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk to the bowl, mix on low speed just until the flour is moistened. Increase speed to medium; beat batter for 90 seconds.

Stop the mixer; scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Incorporate the egg white mixture in 3 additions, beating well after each addition. After the final addition, scrape down the bowl well.. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap pans on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.

Bake in heated oven for about 25 minutes, until the tops spring back lightly when pressed. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then gently invert them out of the pans, invert them again until they’re right-side up, and let cakes cool completely on a wire rack.

Simple Amaretto Syrup
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves completely, and syrup just begins to boil. Remove simple syrup from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Stir in the Amaretto. Cover and set aside until ready to assemble the finished cake.

Almond Pastry Cream
1 teaspoon Unflavored Powdered Gelatin
1 tablespoon Cold Water
4 Egg Yolks
1 whole Egg
3 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 cups Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
1 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
2 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
3 tablespoons Powdered Sugar

In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes for the gelatin to absorb the water. Once absorbed, microwave the mixture for about 10 seconds to return the gelatin to a liquid state. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the reserved egg yolks, a whole egg, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of sugar. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Heat until the milk mixture just begins to boil. With an electric mixer, begin whisking the egg mixture. With whisk running, drizzle a little of the hot milk into the eggs to temper the mixture. Continue to whisk while slowly adding the hot milk until about half has been incorporated. Using a hand-held whisk, beginning whisking the milk mixture. Pour the tempered egg mixture into the milk mixture, continuously whisking.

Return the pan to medium heat. Warm the cream, whisking constantly. Occasionally use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent cream from scorching. Cook until the pastry cream thickens and begins to form gentle bubbling. Continue to cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove pastry cream from the heat. Quickly whisk in the liquid gelatin, butter, vanilla and almond extracts.

Strain the cream through a wire mesh strainer into a bowl. The cream will be thick, use a rubber spatula to help work cream through, straining out any clumps of egg that have developed.

Press a layer of cling wrap directly on top of the pastry cream, and refrigerate at least 2 hours for the cream to firm completely.

Just before cake is to be assembled, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together until it forms firm peaks. Gently fold whipped cream into the pastry cream. Once incorporated, whip together.

Almond Buttercream
1/2 cup Flour
1-1/2 cups Milk
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) Butter
1-1/2 cups Baker’s Fine Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/4 teaspoons Salt

In a bowl, whisk together the flour and milk. Place a fine wire mesh strainer over a medium saucepan. Pour flour mixture through the strainer into the saucepan, straining out any flour clumps. Heat the flour mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens. When done, the mixture will have the consistency of thick pudding.

Remove the pan from the heat, and let the flour mixture cool completely, stirring occasionally as it cools.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream the butter with sugar. Beat on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Sugar need to dissolve completely into the butter and no gritty texture remain.

Once the flour mixture has cooled, add the flour to the creamed butter in the mixing bowl. Add vanilla and almond extracts, along with a salt. Whip together 3 minutes until well-combined, light, and fluffy. If the mixture seems to separate continue to whip it holds together. Set aside until ready to assemble torte.

Caramelized Almonds
1-1/2 cups Sliced Almonds
2 tablespoons Water
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Butter

Heat the oven to 350-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil ; spray with nonstick spray. Place the almonds on the baking sheet. Toast almonds in the oven for about 15 minutes, shaking pan for even toasting

Meanwhile, combine the water, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer. Allow mixture to boil until sugar begins to turn a golden brown and the thermometer reaches between 310-325 degrees.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the hot almonds from the oven. Stir until the nuts are coated with caramel. Add the butter stir to blend. Pour almond mixture back onto the onto the foil-lined baking sheet. With a spatula spread mixture into a thin layer without almonds overlapping.

Let the caramel almonds cool completely, then break apart. If in large chunks, chop coarsely. Set aside until ready to use.

To Assemble: Using a large serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half. Lightly brush away any crumbs. Wrap each layer in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will help firm up cake layers, reduce crumbs and make assembling easier.

Place first layer on a cake cardboard or serving plate. Brush first layer generously with the Simple Amaretto Syrup.

Fit a pastry bag with 1/2-inch round tip. Scoop about a quarter of buttercream into the bag. Pipe a ring of buttercream all along the edge of the cake round to act as a barrier and hold in the filling. Spread a third of the pastry cream onto the first layer of cake. Carefully spread pastry cream in an even layer to covers the cake and reaches the buttercream ring.

Top the first cake layer with a second cake round. Repeat the process of brushing cake with syrup, piping a ring of buttercream around the edge, and spreading a third of the pastry cream in the center.

Repeat all three steps with third cake layer. Top with final layer of cake.

Divide remaining buttercream in half. Place half of the buttercream into a pastry bag with a large star tip, set aside.

Spread remaining half of buttercream over the top and down the sides of the cake. Press caramelized almonds into the sides of the cake.

Pipe rosettes along the top of the cake. Decorate rosettes with remaining caramelized almonds.

Note: This cake is best served the day it is assembled, but will taste fine for several days although almonds will become sticky over time.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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